At the Copa- Copa del Rey! (Part 2)

Part 1 of this story can be found here.

The Euro has taken over my household and all of my free time! Hence, a very late continuation of my Copa del Rey story. I’m just hoping at this point that I can remember some of the details…

As much fun as we were having in the Plaza Mayor, we knew we had to make our way to the stadium and to the Barca “camp” if we had any hopes of finding some tickets. But let it be known that at this point, we knew we were pretty much destined to be watching the game from outside the venue. But based on the lively fandom we had just experienced in the heart of the city, we were more than ok with that.

We started walking in the direction of the stadium, zigzagging our way through the maze of side streets speckled with restaurants, gift shops, and bars. And interestingly enough, we kept walking downhill with every step we took. I had no idea that Madrid was built on a hill, but I soon found out that indeed it was, and the Calderon was located at the bottom of said “hill”. The blisters that were quickly forming on my feet began to bleed, and yet as painful as they were, I was determined to continue on! We stopped at a bar to quickly put on our jerseys and grab a drink before we continued on. When we finally arrived at the stadium we discovered that the area was basically deserted, save for a few vendors and policemen directing traffic. Oh, and a loud group of Barca supporters outside of a bar across the street, singing, dancing, setting off flares, and causing all kinds of a ruckus. Silly me… I thought this was more of the same craziness we just witnessed in the plaza, so I took out my phone to record the fun. Only… the group I was filming was not happy with this. They quickly hid their faces, yelled at me, and ran away from my line of view. Um… I was completely unsure of what just happened, but when G yelled at me to put my phone away I got the hint. I deleted everything, and we kept walking. But because of this, we did not hang around the stadium but rather walked on in search of the tents.

“Are we THERE yet?”

Over the hills and far away…

Looooong story short, we discovered our ATM access had been shut down, and therefore cash was a negative. There went our hopes for scoring tickets! But in retrospect, I don’t believe it ever was really possible. We never came across any opportunities to buy any that day. But we DID find the tents and that part was AWESOME. Thousands of Barca fans congregated in this one area of a beautiful park in the southern part of Madrid. There was food, drinks, games, music, fireworks, fans of all levels of frenzy… We sat on a hill with others and simply took it all in. I don’t believe we even talked to each other. Just sat and people watched. It was a lovely sight. We are big fans of FCB… I mean BIG, BIG fans which in the US means we fly a flag outside our home and put a sticker on our car. 🙂 But our love paled in comparison with these people. They (of course, really!) displayed a deeper love for the team than we’d ever experienced. They were hyped up… Singing, chanting, dancing and rallying for the Blaugrana with such fervor and enthusiasm. Again, we were simply in awe of the spectacle of fandom at it’s height! It was like we could feel our blood buzzing with energy at the sight of it all.

We found seats directly in front of the huge TV they had set-up in the center of the space, just as people started to clear out of the area (presumably on their way to the game). We settled in with food and drinks, feeling like we had finally done something right on this day. One sip in, and we noticed they were disassembling the TV. OH CRAP. THEY WERE NOT SHOWING THE GAME HERE! At this point, I had taken to walking around barefoot because let’s face it, a piece of glass in the bottom of my foot was 10x better than suffering the blisters that had grown on the backs of my heels. But I had to suck it up and get a move on or we were going to miss this game. Our only hope was that one of the bars on the way back to the stadium was going to have an open table for us, with a decent view. But our chances were beginning to look slim.

Much to our surprise, we found a crowded bar that still had seats available, and we managed to squeeze ourselves in amongst the other fans (who were all Barca fans in this particular establishment). FINALLY, we got to sit and watch the game! We saw all three lovely goals, cheered along with the other patrons, and celebrated our team’s performance. I’d comment more on the game if I could remember details, but unfortunately sheer exhaustion, stress, adrenaline, and (now) time prevent me from recalling them. But what matters is we were happy, Barca was winning, and damn it… WE WERE IN SPAIN WATCHING THE COPA DEL REY LIVE AND IN LIVING COLOR.

So here’s where the story takes a turn for the worse and my story (finally!) comes to an end. G had the idea at half time to leave the bar and go find another location closer to the stadium. We found a place directly across from the stadium filled to the gills with people. Everyone was standing under a single television attached to the wall, and there was plenty of jumping, singing, and general drunkenness. Naturally, we joined in and quickly found ourselves surrounded by a crowd of people. After only about 10 minutes, G reached down to his front pocket to realize his phone was no longer there. Despite the zipper, and constant awareness, someone had managed to swipe his phone. The next hour or so was spent retracing our steps (which I could barely take any longer!), inquiring people, and calling the phone service. Even once we made it back to our hotel, G spent the next 2 hours dealing with changing passwords and setting up blocks on all of his accounts. We had completely missed the second half, missed the celebrations in the streets post-match, and sadly ended an otherwise FANTASTIC experience pissed off and miserable. But such is life…

It was a roller coaster of a day… ups and downs (quite literally), highs and lows. Despite not getting tickets and ultimately the stolen phone, I wouldn’t say it was a loss in any way. We EXPERIENCED football in Europe. Check THAT off the bucket list! Next time, I just want to be inside the walls of the stadium! Which means, there will have to be a next time…

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